« AnteriorContinuar »
and Country claim a share in as, whose Good and Welfare we ought to consult together with our own. Now this cannot be, without some particular Calling or Course ofLife, wherein to employ ourselves for the Publick Good. God Almighty hath placed Mankind in a mutual Need and Dependence on each other; insomuch, that as the Members of the Natural Body are all helpful and serviceable to one another, so all the Members of the Politick Bodies of States and Kingdoms are to be aiding and affixing to every Pnrt for the Good of the Whole: And therefore the Apostle wills, F.phef. 4. a8. Æl Men to work with their Hands the thing that is good, that they may have to give to him that veedeth.
Not that every one is requir'd to engage in manual or mechanical Trades, and literally to work with the Hand; but that they are, in some honest way or other, to be employ'd for the Benesit of Mankind: for some may work with the Head, and assist with their Counsel and Advice; others may be Eyes to the Blind, to direct them in their way, or Feet to the Lame, to help them forward in it. But still every one must have some Way or Profession in which he is to go, otherwise he is an unprositable Burden of the Earth, and doth but cumber the Ground on which he treads; yea, such a one is not only an unprositable, but a pernicious Member of the World: for he lives only upon the Spoils of the Creation, and brings Ruin both on himself and others. Moreover,
Thirdly, The End of thofe Gifts and Talents we are intrusted withal, is, that we should employ and improve them too, in some good Profession, or Course of Life. God Almighty, like the Housholder in the Parable, hath committed sundry Talents to his Servants and Followers, as those of Health, Wealth, Wisdom, Time, Strength, and other Abilities: tho some have more, and others less, yet all have some for which they are accountable, according to the Measure and Proportion they have receiv'd. Now these are to be exercis'd and improv'd in some particular Calling or Profession, that they may escape the Doom of slothful, and receive the Reward of good and faithful Servants. Beside,
Lastly, The many sad and doleful Effects of Idleness may convince all Men of the Necessity of a particular Trade or Calling, wherein they are to go; without which, they wander and fall into many unspeakable Evils, by wasting their Time and Substance, by abusing their Parts and God'* Creatures, and perverting the End of all his G'iit», tp their
great great Trouble and Disquiet here, and to the sinal Ruin at last both of Body and Soul.
But as there is a particular Calling, wherein every one is to act for their bodily Sustenance; so there is,
II. A general Way of Religion, wherein they are all to walk as Christians for the Salvation of their Souls: And tho the tormer be various, according as the different Inclinations and Abilities of private Persons, and likewise the various Necessities of the Publick, require; yet the latter is but one, wherein they are all to go hand in hand together, without Discord or Division, for their common Salvation. This is the way of Christianity, which is sometimes call'd a Race that every one is to run ; sometimes a Warfare which we are all to accomplish, before we can attain to the Prize of the high Calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Now this way of Religion consists chiefly, of what we are to believe, what we are to, practise, and what we are to pray for in order to our Salvarion: the sirst of which is briefly summ'd up in the Apostles Creed, the second in the Ten Commandments, the third in the Lord's Prayer; which, together with the Doctrine of Repentance, and the Holy Sacraments, are the principal Heads or Parts of ihe Church-Catechism.
Thus having directed to the Way that we should go, together with the two great Paths of it, that lead to everlasting Life; I proceed to the
Next part of the Wise man's Advice, which is to train tip Children betimes in this Way: That is, to train them up in the Knowledge of the Mysteries of a.Trade or Profesiion, that they may live honestly and comfortably here in this World ; but chiefly to train them up in the Knowledge of the Mysteries of Religion, that they may live happily for ever in the next. Both these are inculcated by many Precepts and Examples in Holy Scripture: I know, fays God concerning Abraham, that he will tommand his Children, and his Houfbcld aj ter him, to keep the way of the Lord, to do Justice and Judgment, Gen. 18.19. Jojhua refoWd, that he and his House Jhould serve the Lord, Jost1.24.15. The Israelites were commanded to teach their Children the Gcd 9s their Fathers, and to remember the wonderful 'Things that had been done for them, Psal. 78. In the New Testament, Parents are requir'd to instruct-their Children, and to bring them tip in the Nurture and Admonition os the Lord. St. Luke consirms Theopbitus in the Certainty of thofe things in which he had been injlrufted, Luke 1. 4. And St. 'Paul commends Timothy^ that from a Child he had learn'd and known the holy Scriptures, 2 Tim. 3. 15. The holy Scriptures abound with Precepts and Examples to this purpofe, requiring Children to be train'd up in the Knowledge and Fear of God.
This Solomon would have done betimes ; Train them up, saith he, betimes in the Way theyjhouldgo :• And that, sirst, because they bring into the World with them strong Propensities to Evil, and great Averscness to that which is. Good; which things are to be corrected in the beginning, by an early and pious Education, before they grow headstrong, and improve into vitious Habits- and Customs. If the Seeds of Virtue be not sow'd betimes, Vice will soon get ground, and the Mind, like a neglected Garden, will be over-run with Weeds and Briars. And therefore Virtue should have the start, and Children sttould set out betimes in their Christian Course; in which, because they are like to meet with many Difficulties and Temptations, 'tis good to have their Hearts establish'd with Grace, and their Minds fortify'd with the Knowledge of Christ, that they may the better withstand them. And as Children have great need to be thus timely instructed, so is Youth the sittest Season to instil it into them; for Religion never thrives more kindly than when 'tis planted betimes, and the Foundation of it laid in an early Piety. Youth is the Age of Ductility, when the Mind is soft and tender, and like Wax capable of any Impression; which makes it of consequence to stamp it with the best: And being like a Twig apt to bend, great care is to be taken to bend it the right way. ,
Parents then, and Tutors, mould carefully improve this time, and instil good Instructions, when the Mind is so. pliable and sit to receive them. By this means they may easily insinuate and plant good Principles in them, which will take off the Difficulties of Religion, and insensibly reconcile them to the severest Acts of a good Life; insomuch that what seems hard to an over-grown Sinner, will be sound eafy and pleasant to one that imbib'd these timely Instructions.
Childhood then, and Youth, are the Times of entring Men into the Way that they should go, before evil Counsel and Example clap a wrong Biass upon them, to turn them
out out of it: And being thus initiated betimes, the Wife-man here adds, that when they are old they will not depart from it. Which is the
Last Thing to be spoken to, viz. The Incouragement here given to the Catechizing or Training up Youth, from jtbe lasting Impressions it leaves behind it: When they are old, &c.
There are two ways of departing from the Way we should go, either by falling into Idleness and Debauchery, on the one hand; or by falling into Sects and Divisions, on the other: By the one we depart from the Way of our Calling, as Men; by the other, from the Way of Religion, as Christians. Now the well-training up of Children betimes, is the best Preservative against both: For,
First, The inuring them in the beginning to the Business of a Calling, will arm them against Idleness, and the many Evils and Debaucheries that flow from it ; the Work and Business which to others is irkfom and tedious, will become eafy and delightful to thofe that are train'd up and accustom'd to it, and by that means keep them from departing from it.
Again, The well-grounding of Children in the Principles of Religion, will in a great measure arm them against the Wiles and Artisices of Seducers; this will help to keep them found and stedfast in the Faith, and not to be easily led away by the Error of the Wicked.
For when Truth hath taken the sirst Possession of the Mind, Errors and false Doctrines will sind no Admission. The true Reason of that Instability in Religion as well as Corruption of Manners, that abound in the present Age, is the lack of Catechizing, and training up Children in the way of Religion, in the which they should go : for where this is neglected, or the Mind poison'd with evil Principles, it either casts off all Religion, or embraces a very bad one.
Hence our Saviour compares such as lay a good Foundation of Instruction betimes, to a wife Man that luilt his House on a Rock, which remain'd sirm and unshaken, and stood the shock of the greatest Tempest. Whereas they that lay none, or bad Principles in the beginning, are resembled to the foolish Man that built his House on the Sand, Mat. 7. 27. which was shaken with every Wind, and could not stand the force of the slightest Storm.
From this whole Discourse we may,
First, Lament the lack of this early Instruction, which is the great Cause of all the Looseness and Immoralities, and likewise of all the Errors and Divisions of the present Times.
And, Secondly, we may exhort all Parents and Masters to be mindsul of this great and weighty Duty, to catechize their Children and Servants, and train them up betimes in the Way they should go. And since the sirst Instructions take such sast hold, and make such deep and lasting Impressions on the Mind, they should be careful to season their tender Years with good Principles and an early Piety; lest Children, instead of a Blessing and a Comfort to their Parents, prove, thro' their own Neglect, only a Curse and Grief to them.
Acts xi. 26. latter part. And the 'Disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
HAVING shew'd the Nature, Necessity and Usefulness of Catechizing, I come now to the Catechism itself; where the sirst Question is, What is yow Name? To which the Answer is, N. or M. £«fr. The Design of this Question is,
1. To comply with the Weakness of Children; and by an eafy and familiar Question at sirst, to draw them on to learn and receive Instruction: their Name being the sirst thing they learn or remember, by giving a ready Answer to that,they maybe encouraged and emboldened to rehearse more; whereas a harder Question in the beginning, might be apt to puzzle and discourage them from going any farther. Again,
2. This Question is design'd to lead them on to the Knowledge and Remembrance of their Baptism; which being the sirst and greatest thing that was done for them, ought to be first learnt and minded by them.
Lastly, Because together with our Name we receive our
Christianity $ the Design of this Question is, to put Chil